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Kent Smith, Ph.D.


Kent is the Associate Dean of the Office for the Advancement of American Indians in Medicine and Science and Professor of Anatomy at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and an Affiliated Research Associate at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Kent attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University to pursue his interests in science, but completed his bachelor’s degree at Cameron University where he majored in biology and biochemistry.  He continued his studies at Midwestern State University where he earned his master’s degree in biology.  At the University of Oklahoma, he earned a Ph.D. in Zoology.

Kent’s research interests include the paleobiology, biogeography, and systematics of late Neogene mammals of the Great Basin, Great Plains regions, and Colorado Plateau of North America.  He uses a number of techniques and approaches including multivariate statistical analyses, computer-assisted phylogenetic analysis, field collections, and surveys.

His teaching duties include an array of graduate courses in gross anatomy, comparative vertebrate anatomy, field techniques in vertebrate paleontology, paleomammalogy as well as clinical courses in human anatomy and sports medicine. 

Nick Czaplewski, Ph.D.


Nick works as a Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Zoology of the University of Oklahoma. 

Nick received his bachelor's and master's degrees in biology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and his PhD in zoology at Northern Arizona University. 

Nick's research interests are in the systematics, paleontology, natural history, and biogeography of Cenozoic mammals in the western hemisphere, especially in the North American Southwest. He feels privileged to have been trained and mentored by many skilled persons close to the earth and nature in both professional and nonprofessional capacities. He actively works to "pass it forward" to youth and adults by teaching museum public programs, OU classes, and volunteering in ecological restoration, conservation projects, and field programs such as Native Explorers. 

Nick lives in Norman with his wife Cheryl and their daughter Jessica.

Ian Browne, Ph.D.

Ian is a postdoctoral fellow at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences where he co-teaches gross anatomy to first-year medical students, and is a research associate at the San Diego Natural History Museum. His research interests are focused on the response of small-mammal communities to a period of climate change that occurred approximately 15 million years ago and on developing new methodologies to dramatically decrease the cost of 3D scanning microscopic fossils.

Ian received a BS in geology from California State University San Bernardino in 1999, a MS in geological sciences from the University of California Riverside in 2003, and his Ph.D. at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in 2015. Prior to returning to graduate school to pursue his Ph.D. Ian worked for five years as a mitigation paleontologist for the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Department of PaleoServices where he documented and recovered fossils from construction sites.

Rich Cifelli, Ph.D.

Rich is Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Sam Noble Museum and Presidential Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Oklahoma. He joined the museum staff and university faculty in 1986 and has served both continuously since.

Cifelli earned an A.B. (1976) in Sociology at Colby College and an A.M. (1979) in Anthropology at the University of Chicago before turning his interest to paleontology, then completed his M.Phil. (1980) and Ph.D. (1983) in Geology & Geophysics at Columbia University. Subsequently, he was a Fellow-in-Residence (1983-1985) at the Smithsonian Institution, and served briefly as Visiting Curator (1985-1986) at the Museum of Northern Arizona, before coming to Oklahoma.

Cifelli’s primary research interests include vertebrate assemblages from the Mesozoic of the Western Interior. He has collaborated on studies of varied types of vertebrates, from lungfishes to dinosaurs, but his primary area of interest is in Cretaceous mammals. Subject matter for Rich’s research comes from the collections made in the course of field work over the past 34 years, particularly in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, and Texas.

 At OU, Cifelli teaches an introductory geology/ biology class on dinosaurs and an advanced undergraduate/ graduate course in vertebrate paleobiology. He has also served as faculty mentor for a number of undergraduate and graduate students.

Holly Woodward Ballard, Ph.D.

Holly Woodward Ballard is a paleohistologist, and studies fossil bone tissue microstructures to understand the growth and development of extinct animals. Specifically, she makes use of large-sample osteohistology to assess growth dynamics, individual variability, and survivorship in dinosaurs and other extinct vertebrates, while utilizing the bone microstructure of extant vertebrates to provide a framework for paleohistologic inferences. Her interests led to fieldwork in Mongolia and Australia, as well as to ongoing fieldwork in North America.

As an undergraduate, Holly majored in Geology with a paleontology concentration at North Carolina State University. She was introduced to the field of paleohistology while a graduate student at Texas Tech University, resulting in her M.Sc. thesis describing the bone microstructure of the sauropodAlamosaurus. In 2012 she received a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from Montana State University. While at MSU, she studied histologic variation in archosaurs, with particular emphasis on the growth history of the dinosaurMaiasaura.

After spending a year as Paleontology Collections Manager at the Museum of the Rockies, Holly joined the faculty of Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences as Assistant Professor of Anatomy. She holds research affiliations at the Museum of the Rockies and Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Paul Gignac, Ph.D.

Paul Gignac an evolutionary biomechanist and vertebrate paleontologist. His research focuses on how highly integrated anatomical systems undergo phenotypic change without compromising their biological roles. He is particularly interested in musculoskeletal and dental development and evolution among fossil and extant archosaurs and other reptiles.

Paul received his BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2004 from the University of Connecticut. His honors senior thesis examined cranial kinesis as an adaptation for feeding in lizards. He received his PhD in Biological Science in 2010 from Florida State University, where he studied ontogenetic changes in crocodylian feeding biomechanics.

After joining the faculty of Stony Brook University as a Human Gross Anatomy Instructor, Paul is now an Assistant Professor at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, OK. He has done paleontological fieldwork in North America and Africa and holds research affiliations the American Museum of Natural History, Field Museum, and Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Anne Weil, Ph.D.


Anne is an advocate of inclusivity in the sciences and of projects involving citizen science; her first involvement in a science project as a child was catching and tagging Monarch butterflies on their Fall migration, as part of an enormous study run to discover the overwintering area of the Eastern North American population.

Eschewing entomology, Anne is now a vertebrate paleontologist, researching mostly the extinct mammalian group Multituberculata, and also biotic recovery from mass extinction events in Earth’s history. She is also at least a little interested in all things Mesozoic, and has worked extensively in the Late Cretaceous age (110-66 million years old) sediments of North America. Current projects include excavation of a dinosaur-bearing site in the Morrison Formation, which is about 150 million years old.

Anne’s teaching responsibilities are diverse, including Medical Gross Anatomy, Statistics, and field methods in Paleontology. She is currently an Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, and an Affiliated Research Associate at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Her education followed a less straight line than many, as she received an A.B. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard College in 1988, an M.A. in Geological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by postdoctoral research in Duke University’s Department of Biological Anthropology. 

Lee Bement, Ph.D.

Leland has been with the Survey for 20 years. Significant research projects include the 10,500 year old Cooper bison kills, and the 10,800 year old Jake Bluff bison kill.

Education: Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991
M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986
B.A. from Fort Lewis College, Colorado in 1979

Specialization: Paleoindian studies, Animal bone identification, Hunter-gatherer adaptations, rock art, stone tool technologies, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

Publications: 2 books, including one on the Cooper site
48 journal articles
numerous other research reports

Much of this work has been funded by Historic Preservation grants, the National Geographic Society, and the National Science Foundation as well as from private donations.

Tribal workings: Cheyenne-Arapaho, Apache, Comanche, Kiowa.

Classes at the undergraduate and graduate level include archaeology field schools, archaeological laboratory techniques, animal bone identification, and human mobility and sedentism.

In addition to being a Research Archeologist at the Survey, Leland is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology and Graduate Faculty member at OU, Adjunct Full Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences and Graduate Faculty member at OSU, Stillwater, and a Research Fellow at the Museum of Texas Tech, Lubbock.